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I've got this sentence:

Sie dachte an ihre Eltern und daran, dass sie sie ein Jahr nicht gesehen hatte.

That's a clear one. »dass« introduces a subclause which is also separated by a comma.

Now what happens if I omit the word »daran«:

Sie dachte an ihre Eltern und dass sie sie ein Jahr nicht gesehen hatte.

The meaning of »dachte an ‹person›« and »dachte daran, dass ‹circumstance›« is pretty much the same, so I think that this can be combined to make it easier to read. But now the subclause (introduced by »dass«) is still there but now there is no proper spot to put the comma to separate it from the main clause.

Question: Does the proposed omission render the sentence truly wrong? Or is it possible to have the sentence without a comma? Or where should I put the comma?

EDIT: I just found an example sentence in the official language description (e.g. https://www.korrekturen.de/regelwerk/pdf/Regeln_2018.pdf) in § 74 on page 83 which is extremely close to my question and which tells us to omit the comma:

Außerordentlich bedauert hat er diesen Vorfall und dass das hier geschehen konnte.

  • Probably not a misunderstanding due to the choice of words, but: Thanks for making me laugh when the mental image of the grammar police rushing in to arrest the illegal sentence popped up. ^_^ – Stephie Jun 5 at 15:45
  • :-D Alright, instead of ›illegal‹ read ›wrong‹ ;-) – Alfe Jun 5 at 16:18
  • "Sie dachte, dass sie sie ein Jahr nicht gesehen hatte." legt nahe, dass sie sie in Wahrheit aber doch gesehen hatte (vielleicht waren sie verkleidet) oder dass sie an einer Form von Demenz leidet, so dass sie sich nicht erinnert. – user unknown Jun 5 at 21:32
  • Du kannst Fragen auch gerne auf deutsch stellen. – Carsten S Jun 6 at 13:09
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In my opinion, leaving out daran changes the verb from an etw. denken ('to think about sth.) to etw. denken ('to think sth.') for the second part. And would you also write

Sie dachte, dass sie sie ein Jahr nicht gesehen hatte.

?

Another argument for this is what happens when you swap the parts:

*Sie dachte daran, dass sie ihre Eltern ein Jahr nicht gesehen hatte, und sie.

vs.

Sie dachte daran, dass sie ihre Eltern ein Jahr nicht gesehen hatte, und an sie.

So I think without daran, even the meaning changes because an from the previous part can't be added mentally to fill the gap.

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  • Yeah, all true, viewed through very precise goggles, the meaning changes all so slightly by the omission. (In all cases it's more or less »the thought crossed her mind«.) But as I said, the change in meaning isn't the relevant aspect here (as it is too slight in my case to be of relevance). I'm interested in the question whether (with this slight change in meaning accepted) the resulting sentence can be handled correctly. It might be plain wrong (maybe just not on first sight) or just a slightly unusual structure, and if so, how to put the comma correctly. – Alfe Jun 6 at 2:09
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    @Alfe so actually you want to combine the sentences Sie dachte an ihre Eltern and Sie dachte, dass sie sie ein Jahr nicht gesehen hatte. Regarding the comma, there's no comma if the dass-clause is a member of a mixed enumeration like here with a prepositional object: Sie dachte an ihre Eltern und dass sie sie ein Jahr nicht gesehen hatte. However, it would be Sie dachte, dass sie ihre Eltern ein Jahr nicht gesehen hatte, (!) und sie., because here there's no enumeration initiated, so it's a plain ellipsis after the und. – amadeusamadeus Jun 6 at 10:00
  • Thank you! The point about the enumeration and that in this case commas aren't necessary was the relevant information I was lacking. (Btw, if swapped it should be »… gesehen hatte, und an sie.« But that would be terrible to read, of course.) – Alfe Jun 8 at 19:13
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For me the sentence

Sie dachte an ihre Eltern und dass sie sie ein Jahr nicht gesehen hatte.

sounds weird, like it is missing something.

I feel like in the first sentence,

Sie dachte an ihre Eltern und daran, dass sie sie ein Jahr nicht gesehen hatte.

the content of the sub clause clearly connects back to the verb of the main clause, because daran is a word strongly associated with thinking and related actions (daran denken, daran glauben), so that it is clear that she is thinking of her parents and also thinking of not having seen them in a year.

By omitting the daran the reader doesn't expect the sub clause to still be directly about her thoughts.

One way the sentence could be modified to make more sense would be to make the sub clause about her reaction to her first thought. Like:

Sie dachte an ihre Eltern, und dass sie sie ein Jahr nicht gesehen hatte machte sie traurig.

Note the comma between Eltern and und.

This answer is just based on my feeling for the language, not on solid grammatical rules.

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    no comma here? "hatte machte" – user41814 Jun 5 at 21:44
  • Thanks for the consideration! I'm also native German, author and have studied »something about language« ;-) But still that second sentence (the one in question) came fluidly out of my pen (well, keyboard). Only later I noticed the omission when I asked myself where to put the »dass«-comma. So I would say that in a not-so-technical context that sentence can at least happen and would be accepted by many native speakers. I'm not sure about it's official correctness, though. Your example needs a comma between »hatte« and »machte« and changes it very much so that the original issue disappears. – Alfe Jun 5 at 23:48
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Sie dachte an ihre Eltern, und dass sie sie ein Jahr nicht gesehen hatte

I think a comma fits here well. This makes her second thought an addition, which it really is.

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  • That would also fit the rules if the »und dass« was something similar to the »so dass« or »als dass« but unfortunately I never read anything about an »und dass«. Maybe I just found it :-} – Alfe Jun 5 at 23:51

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